Renovations at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center stalled ahead of equipment upgrades and physical reconfigurations first announced by officials before closing the facility for five months in May.
Officials reopened Lerner last week with an updated heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, but officials announced in May that the renovations could also include “equipment upgrades” and a redesigned layout with more versatile spaces. The students said they struggled to identify the physical changes in the space after the renovations after finding dilapidated equipment and “cramped” spaces will be ongoing issues as the facility reopens.
“The closure is necessary to safely carry out extensive HVAC work throughout the building,” André Julien, director of the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, said in an email in May. “It’s also an opportunity to use downtime to upgrade equipment and reconfigure the building to provide more flexible and collaborative spaces.”
University spokesman Josh Grossman did not return a request for comment on the specific nature of any renovations completed at Lerner and whether any equipment upgrades were made during the shutdown.
The students said that while Lerner was closed, they improvised dormitory exercises or paid for off-campus gym memberships, disabling free gym access on the third-floor hall of the University’s Student Center and West Hall Gymnasium on the Mount Vernon campus.
Lerner offers a three-lane pool on its lower level and free weights, weight machines, and cardio machines on the ground floor. The building also has six squash courts, four basketball, volleyball and badminton courts and a gymnasium with a suspended track on the third and fourth floors.
More than 25 students said they’ve used Lerner since it reopened and recommended managers replace older, dilapidated weight and cardio equipment that lacks safety features with newer models. Students also said they wanted to see officials reconfigure the space, noting the center’s “cramped” layout that leaves little room to maneuver during high-traffic times, especially when popular amenities like benches Frequently have lines of students waiting to use them during peak hours. hours.
Seven students said they saw minimal changes in Lerner’s renovations and noted the lack of new amenities given previous messages from officials and the length of the closure.
Ennosen Yen, who studies interior architecture, said she believed officials would improve equipment during the shutdown and recommended that they install more machines on the third and fourth floors of the building to distribute students and remedy the lack of space.
Besides the track and multi-purpose courts, Lerner’s third and fourth floors lack free weights and only have various cardio equipment on the top floor.
“It’s like a four- or five-story building, and I don’t think it’s being used to the potential that it could be used,” Yen said. “So more machines, more weightlifting, more activities using each floor.”
Freshman Erica Kong said there are a few popular exercise machines, like weighted squat machines, that often have queues of students waiting to use them. She said she had to wait at least twice for several students to use the machines before she could leave.
“Leg machines like hip abductors and weighted squats are very popular, but it’s a bit of a one-at-a-time because there’s only one of each,” Kong said.
Freshman Rohan Singh said some exercise machines look dilapidated and need maintenance or replacement because they lack safety features such as handles, making them painful or dangerous to use.
“The machines have no hold on them anymore,” Singh said. “It’s like tearing your hands off on bare metal, and they’re just pretty old machines, like 15 years old.”
Sophomore Asli Bereketoglu said the weight room is “small” and has dated equipment that doesn’t appear to have been updated since before the closure. She said officials should update or better maintain exercise machines, pointing to cardio equipment that squeaks when in motion.
Exercise machines typically have a lifespan of around 10 years, including ongoing maintenance checks, according to a 2016 report from Allianz Risk Consulting.
“I feel like the equipment is so old,” Bereketoglu said. “They have to change the equipment because the equipment makes so much noise when you use it.”
Students said there was a lack of space in Lerner’s cardio and weight section even after officials said they planned to reconfigure the space to be more “flexible.”
Freshman Eugenia Wincey said the lack of space in these sections makes the space “cramped.” She said the space was not large enough to accommodate all of the students using the facility during its busiest times in the afternoon.
“I think the space where there are the walkers and the weights is a bit small for the size of the student population,” Wincey said.
Junior Nicky Danilich said the only improvement he noticed upon reopening was freshly painted white walls in the lobby and fitness center. He said closing the gym was “not worth it” to him because he had to find an alternative off-campus gym and hadn’t noticed any major physical renovations when the center reopened.
“I don’t know if it was something they had to do, but it was kind of annoying having to go to Gold’s Gym in Rosslyn instead while it was closed,” Danilich said.